Most Arkansas public school students will be required to wear masks when classes begin next week, following moves by dozens of districts in response to a judge blocking the state’s mask mandate ban.
The pace at which school districts have approved the requirements surprised even public health experts who say masks are needed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, especially as the ultra-contagious delta variant fuels a surge in cases and hospitalizations. Arkansas this week reached a new record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations during the pandemic.
Districts approving bans said they’re needed to prevent widespread quarantines of students and staff when outbreaks do occur. They point to the Marion School District, where more than 1,000 students and staff have had to quarantine since classes began July 26. Marion has also approved a mandate since the judge’s ruling.
Supporters have also said the requirements are needed to protect children under the age of 12 who can’t currently be vaccinated against the virus.
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